Impassioned Law Experts Testify: If the Ukraine Scandal Isn’t Impeachable, “Nothing Is”

“This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution including impeachment to protect against.”

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Constitutional law expert Michael Gerhardt warned Congress Wednesday that failure to impeach President Donald Trump could set a dangerous precedent for future commanders in chief.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable,” the professor at University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill said during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing. “This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution including impeachment to protect against.”

“If Congress concludes they’re gonna give a pass to the president,” he continued, “every other president will say, ‘OK, then I can do the same thing,’ and the boundaries will just evaporate.”

An erosion of those boundaries, he concluded, would be “a danger to all of us.”

Gerhardt’s remarks came during the first day of a new phase of the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings, in which Gerhardt—along with Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan, and George Washington Law professor Jonathan Turley—provided the legal and historical basis by which the president may be found guilty of impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Watch Gerhardt’s remarks below:

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.